The Medical Renaissance: The Cardiovascular System

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The Medical Renaissance: The Cardiovascular System Medical care today is something whose history and presence we take for granted. It is sterile, highly regulated, and only exercised by trained, experienced professionals. However, before and during the Middle Ages, medical care was almost nonexistent—due in large part to our lack of knowledge, or lack of correct knowledge, of how the human body functioned. Almost all of our understandings of the human body had been from Galen in Ancient Greece’s theories, but they were not very accurate or detailed (Rogers 14-15). It wasn’t until during the Renaissance period (1400s to 1700s) that many European scholars (Leonardo da Vinci, William Harvey, etc.) realized that medical care needed to change, …show more content…
Galen had studied the human body as best he could by dissecting animals (Mantin and Pulley 60), and believed that the cardiovascular system was made up of two distinct plexi. According to him, blood was produced from the liver and carried to the various tissues throughout the body via arteries that also contained air absorbed from the lungs into the pulmonary veins. For centuries people believed Galen’s theories and thought that the cardiovascular system was an "open-ended" system in which blood and air simply dissipated at the ends of select veins and arteries, and this belief led to many medical errors, one major error being …show more content…
During the Renaissance, however, many physicians were noticing that bloodletting patients seemed to only make things worse. According to Nancy G. Siraisi, author of Medieval and Early Renaissance Medicine: An Introduction to Knowledge and Practice, “We may note, too, that the practicing medical experts were flexible and pragmatic in their application of medical theory. It was the patient who wanted the theory of cure by contraries to be rigidly followed…it was the patient, not the physicians, who was convinced of the virtues of bloodletting” (118). Physicians before the Renaissance knew they would be prosecuted if they went against society and challenged what was believed to be fact, and that’s why it took until the Renaissance for any of them to come out and speak their mind about medical

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